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Table of Contents
                            WITCHCRAFT MYTHOLOGIES AND PERSECUTIONS
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CONTENTS OF THE FIRST VOLUME AND THE SECOND VOLUME
INTRODUCTION
PART I MYTHOLOGIES
	THE CONCEPT OF THE WITCHES’ SABBATH IN THE ALPINE REGION (1430–1440): TEXT AND CONTEXT
	ROUND-TABLE DISCUSSION WITH CARLO GINZBURG, GUSTAV HENNINGSEN, ÉVA PÓCS, GIOVANNI PIZZA AND GÁBOR KLANICZAY
	LEARNED SYSTEMS AND POPULAR NARRATIVES OF VISION AND BEWITCHMENT
	LATE MEDIEVAL WITCH MYTHOLOGIES IN THE BALKANS
	CHILD WITCHES AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE WITCHES’ SABBATH: THE SWEDISH BLAKULLA STORY
PART II LEGAL MECHANISMS AND SOCIAL CONTEXTS
	RIVER ORDEAL—TRIAL BY WATER—SWIMMING OF WITCHES: PROCEDURES OF ORDEAL IN WITCH TRIALS
	HOW TO MAKE A (LEGAL) PACT WITH THE DEVIL? LEGAL CUSTOMS AND LITERACY IN WITCH CONFESSIONS IN EARLY MODERN HUNGARY
	HEALING AT THE JAGIELLONIAN COURT
	FOLLOWING THE TRACES OF XENOPHOBIA IN MUSCOVITE WITCHCRAFT INVESTIGATION RECORDS
	THE TRIAL OF AN HONEST CITIZEN IN NAGYBÁNYA, 1704–1705; A TENTATIVE MICROANALYSIS OF WITCHCRAFT ACCUSATIONS
	BOUNDARIES AND TRANSGRESSIONS: WITCHCRAFT AND COMMUNITY CONFLICT IN ESTONIA DURING THE LATE NINETEENTH CENTURY
PART III WITCHCRAFT AND FOLKLORE
	EXTRAORDINARY CHILDREN, WEREWOLVES, AND WITCHES IN PORTUGUESE FOLK TRADITION
	REFLECTIONS OF FOLK BELIEF AND LEGENDS AT THE WITCH TRIALS OF ESTONIA1
	WITCHES AND PRIESTS IN THE BULGARIAN VILLAGE: PAST AND PRESENT
	WITCHCRAFT IN EASTERN SLOVENIA
LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS
INDEX
                        
Document Text Contents
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WITCHCRAFT MYTHOLOGIES AND PERSECUTIONS

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HOW TO MAKE A (LEGAL) PACT WITH THE DEVIL 171



sidered smaller than the soul. The whole hand represents the One God,
the Creator who had created Man and all the creatures of Heaven and
Earth (Petkó 1883, p. 797).

Unfortunately, it is not very common for the defendants in Hungarian

witch trials to specify the particular hand and the particular finger that
was used for the bloodletting in the pact. If it is mentioned, it is either the
little finger or the ring finger which are named; the hand being less certain
(there are, however, confessions, specifying the right one).16

At this stage, at the beginning of the study of this particular gesture sym-
bolism, I can but propose a preliminary interpretation which needs, of
course, thorough further research. Let me first point to the fact that a very
similar finger symbolism was already put forward in Malleus Maleficarum,
in passages in which the two fifteenth-century inquisitors described the
“usual manner” of making the deponents swear. Krämer and Sprenger
themselves identified the first three fingers to be raised as symbol of the
Holy Trinity elaborating a different but nevertheless remarkable interpreta-
tion for the last two fingers. According to them, the deponents should bend
or “depress” the latter in testimony of the damnation of their soul and body
if they will not “speak the truth in their depositions” (Malleus Maleficarum,
207, emphasis is my own: I. K.). Provided that this legal and religious inter-
pretation of the hand and its fingers was known enough in early modern
times to affect popular imagination, the following hypothesis could be pro-
posed. The imaginary use of one or the other of the last two fingers for con-
cluding a pact with the Devil could be explained according to this legal and
religious gesture symbolism, which vested the fingers with a binary signifi-
cance: divine vs. human / salvation vs. damnation / sacred vs. diabolic. Pre-
ferring the human/diabolic fingers to let blood from might thus suggest that
some demonological concepts were incorporated indeed into the stock of
knowledge of town and village people. The act of cutting the ring finger,
which signified the human soul, would symbolize the perfect or “official”
version of an alliance between a human being and the Devil. It is tempting
to associate it with the Faustian story of offering one’s soul to Satan. How-
ever, in the act of cutting the little finger (symbolizing the human body), it is
not so easy to find a parallel. Could it represent a kind of “popular” demon-
ology in which the physical/material/bodily features of the alliance are
much more stressed than the spiritual ones?

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172 WITCHCRAFT MYTHOLOGIES AND PERSECUTIONS

Even if it were so, one should be very careful in attributing constant,
rigid, and fixed meanings to the hand and its fingers. The use of the first
three divine/sacred fingers for example is to be found in other contexts. In
early modern culture, the meaning of the particular fingers of the hand
could also vary. Let me only hint at two contexts. The first three fingers
raised and symbolizing the Holy Trinity is a very ancient gesture known
from Christian iconography and liturgy. In its pictorial representations, it
is attributed mostly to Jesus Christ and Catholic—later also Lutheran—
priests and stands for the act of blessing.17 It appears, however, in another
set of liturgical gestures, as well: in that of making the sign of the Holy
Cross in which the meaning of the particular fingers depends on the spe-
cific way of holding them. One of the official, Post-Tridentine prayer
books written by the Catholic Archbishop Péter Pázmány and published
in Hungarian in 1651, distinguishes three different ways of holding the
fingers while making that sign. The one with three outstretched and two
closed fingers symbolizes for him the Holy Trinity. Making the sign with
the thumb and the index finger put together would stand, however, for the
double substance of Jesus Christ (divine and human), while making it
with all the five straightened fingers would refer to the five stigmata of the
Savior (Pázmány 1606, pp. 12–14).

The religious as well as legal hand/finger symbolism certainly deserves
further investigation. We have to acquire a better understanding of its pos-
sible connections to early modern witchcraft discourse. The Hungarian
witch confessions seem to indicate, as I argued above, that there existed a
certain connection.

Turning finally to the written form of the pact, it seems that its repre-
sentation in Hungarian witch confessions permits a similar legal, commu-
nicational (sometimes even economical) interpretation, just as the “oral/
gesture version” treated above. All three forms according to which the ac-
cused Hungarian witches have imagined the written contract—a piece of
paper (called sometimes levØl i.e., a letter, sometimes cØdula i.e., a slip), a
book (either small or big) or a (not much specified) list (lajstrom i.e., a
register of names)18—seem to have had, again, their social counterparts in
the everyday life of town or village people. They belonged to the sphere of
practical literacy used in every day life by early modern bureaucracy. Sup-
posedly nobody could escape this sphere involving various public as well
as private transactions and administrative acts. Public acts were recording

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350 INDEX

neighborhood witch, 10, 240, 242, 296,
297, 298, 299, 301, 303, 308, 309

night witch, 10, 37, 50, 69, 303, 304,
306, 307, 308, 309, 310

nocturnal flight of, 18, 20, 26, 36, 63
ointment of, 117, 118
orgy of, 70
physical appearance of, 244, 250, 301
poisoning the air, 23
Portuguese, 256
pressing, 50
propaganda against, 84, 93
riding, 65, 66, 117
rites of, 65, 290, 292
sacrifices of, 65
sect of, 17, 65
social, 305, 306
stealing babies, 103, 272
stealing milk, 105
strigae, 27
supernatural, 262, 263, 301
Swedish, 119
swimming of, 5, 129, 130, 132, 133,

135, 136, 138, 139, 141, 142, 143,
144, 145, 146, 148, 224, 225, 227,
228

tortured, 68, 176
village witch, 10, 220, 295, 296, 298,

299, 300, 301, 306, 308, 309
weather magic of, 26, 27, 143
witch-accuser, 69, 70, 73
witch-finder, 149
witch-panic, 68, 73
witchcraft, 1, 4, 7, 9, 8, 10, 16, 19, 20, 21,

22, 25, 38, 39, 41, 42, 51, 65, 68, 90,
99, 103, 105, 109, 110, 112, 120, 123,
136, 138, 139, 141, 142, 143, 148, 164,
166, 177, 178, 186, 197, 198, 199, 200,
204, 206, 207, 208, 209, 214, 220, 221,
224, 227, 228, 229, 237, 238, 240, 242,
243, 244, 245, 246, 247, 248, 249, 250,
269, 270, 271, 272, 273, 274, 276, 277,
283, 286, 290, 295, 296, 298, 300, 303,
307, 308, 309, 310

accusations, 4, 7, 10, 67, 70, 73, 93, 99,
139, 185, 188, 197, 204, 213, 218,
220, 228, 243, 244, 246, 248, 249,
306

beliefs, 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 50, 108, 169, 173,
237, 269, 270, 295, 296, 298, 310

beliefs, contemporary, 8, 10, 100
beliefs, Estonian, 240
beliefs, popular, 164
commissions, 112, 120, 122, 123
confessions, 5, 68, 69, 164
conflicts, 7, 8, 10
counterwitchcraft, 244
diabolic, 58, 72
early modern, 172
early modern European, 164
early modern Hungarian, 169, 173
European, 310
history of, 6, 8, 295,
introverted, 100
knowledge of, 223, 229
layers of, 308
maleficent, 100, 117, 122, 198, 201
medieval and early modern, 269
mythology of, 1, 2, 4, 8, 44
narratives, 9
persecutions,1, 2, 7, 8, 64, 67, 129,

130, 136, 139, 146, 218
persecutions, Basque, 76
persecutions, early modern, 130, 132
shamanic roots of, 296
suspicions of, 7, 139, 238, 240, 242,

245, 247, 248, 300
West-European, 208
wizard/s, 38, 41, 47, 227, 271, 272, 273,

277, 278
bodily transformations of, 278
stealing babies, 272
wizardry, 85, 90
wolf/s, 85, 94, 259, 262, 264, 266, 276
being familiar with, 25
cult of, 266
feasts of, 86
riding on, 25

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INDEX 351



wolf-keeper, 255, 262
wolf-skin, 277
women change into, 25
womb cancer, 186
women from outside, 36, 37
world turned upside down, 68
Wrangel, Carl Gustav, field marshal, 99

xenophobia, 6, 197, 198, 265

Yovanchovich, Petre, 84

zaptieh (Turkish officier), 94
Zazár (Săsar, Romania), 235
Zentay, Tünde, 230
Zguta, Russel, 132
Zieliński, Stanislas, 191
zmaj / zmej, See: sorcerer, 38
Zonabend, Françoise, 258

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